The Protestant Christians believe in Sola Scriptura, that is that they should live by scripture alone, what’s in the Bible, not what anyone else says. Makes sense. All Christians believe that, however, Catholics and Orthodox disbelieve in that the Bible, as is, is the final say. The Bible must be interpreted. I mean what Christian thinks that abortion is right? Abortion is not in the Bible, but thou shalt not kill is. This is an interpretation. So, it is not Sola Scriptura – it is not “by Scripture alone.” It is scripture and interpretation at minimum.
Now, Protestants believe that everyone must interpret the scriptures for themselves. True. But Catholics and Orthodox believe that everyone must interpret the scriptures for themselves within reason, certain logical boundaries that cross reference the rest of the Bible with each passage. For example, all Christians would say that it is wrong to interpret the part of the Bible that says that God created the world to mean that God only created the philosophical idea of a world and not the actual world itself. Why? Because that would be ridiculous and would make no sense to interpret the passage that way if the rest of the Bible is true. Protestants also have constraints as well, Luther set them up. He is giving you his interpretations, such as Sola Scriptura – which is not even in the Bible, by the way.
You see? We are misunderstanding each other but are saying, the same things!
Since we are on the subject of the bible. The Catholics and Orthodox Bibles have a few extra books called the “Deuterocanonicals” which means a second canon of scripture. The Protestants do not have these books and sometimes refer to these books as “Apocrypha” or Hidden Things. They are all Old Testament by the way. So, time to set that record straight. The Catholics and the Orthodox did not add these books to the Bible, as many Protestants claim. These are facts of history. Martin Luther deleted them from the Protestant Bible. Why would he do that? He had, what he thought were very good reasons. These particular books did not agree with his interpretation of scripture. He thought that they were an interesting read but did not belong in the Bible because not only did he disagree with them and the Jews had also removed them from their group of sacred books. Remember the Bible is a library of books.
This begs the question, “Why did the Jews remove them?” Well, that is under debate but here are some telling facts. It only happened after the resurrection of Jesus. Along with these deletions there were changes made to the works that were left. We know this from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jewish scholars admit that they know that the scriptures have been corrupted but don’t go much farther than that. The thing of it is that the passages changed in the Old Testament seemed to be changed to prove that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah. For example, the change to the ages of the descendants of Shem so that Shem is Melchizedek, which in a long convoluted way makes Jesus not the Messiah – it’s complicated. However, this is not stellar recommendation for the deletions if you ask me. Moreover, Jesus quoted from those books! So did the apostles!
Here are just a few examples of almost exact quotes:
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your heavenly father forgive your transgressions.” – Matthew 6:12, 14-15
“Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” – Sirach 28:2
“If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” – John 3:12
“Scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?” – Wisdom 9:16
“(The enemies of Christ persecute us), trying to prevent us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved, thus constantly filling up the measure of their sins. But the wrath of God has finally begun to come upon them.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:16
“Thus, in dealing with other nations, the Lord patiently waits until they reach the full measure of their sins before he punishes them; but with us he has decided to deal differently” – 2 Maccabees 6:14
These books were good enough for Jesus but not good enough for Luther? So not only is Luther telling you how to read the Bible (more on that later) but restricting what you read as well. Moreover, Luther also wanted to get rid of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation. This was also because they disagreed with his interpretation of scripture. Although, this personal judgement of Luther’s was not accepted by his followers so those books stayed.
This acceptance of some of the books and not others have, 500 years later, allowed Protestants to believe that many teachings of the Catholic and Orthodox religions are not in the Bible. But that, my friends, were because they were removed. Every teaching of the Catholic and Orthodox faiths are in the Bible!
Again, we find that this huge divide among Christians is all because of a misunderstanding. History, it clears up so much! We can come together. We can have a Family Reunion.
Peace be with you.